PPC: The 7 mistakes people make with their Amazon Sponsored Ads – #2 Dirty AdGroups

This is #2 in a 7 part series entitled “The 7 mistakes people make with their Amazon Sponsored Ads / PPC.”  At the end of this post you’ll learn why you should (almost) never include more than one Product Ad in any given AdGroup.

Whenever you create an advertising campaign in Sponsored Products, Amazon will ask you to create at least one adgroup, where you specify the keywords you want to target (in a manual campaign), and then they will ask you to specify at LEAST one product that you want to advertise for those keywords.

It’s a trick question, don’t fall for it.  Just choose one.  But first, a list.

Things that can be dirty:

1. Your pop.

2. Your south.

Things that should not be dirty:

1. Your AdGroups.

Here’s why, and it’s really simple:

You’ll have no idea which search term is making you money, for which product.

When you download your search term reports (you are downloading your search term reports, right?) they will tell you how many impressions, clicks, sales, etc you received for your product right?


They give you
1. Campaign.
2. AdGroup

And THAT’S it.

So, here’s where this becomes ruinous.

You have a couple of products you want to sell.  You sell dog leashes.  One is a metal chain leash, and the other is a retractable vinyl leash.  You decide to throw them in the same adgroup.   You bid on the broad/phrase match of “dog leash”

Now, 100 people log into amazon and half of them type “chain dog leash” and half of them type “retractable dog leash”.

There’s no telling which ad each of them is going to see, because Amazon’s not *always* going to be smart enough to match it based on your title and description.

So lets just pretend it’s a fully even distribution

25 people type ‘chain dog leash’ and see a chain dog leash
25 people type ‘chain dog leash’ and see a retractable dog leash
25 people type ‘retractable dog leash’ and see a chain dog leash
25 people type ‘retractable dog leash’ and see a retractable dog leash

What this means is that half of the people who type in the search term will see something that they probably don’t want.  Which means your click through rate will drop (if you’re lucky) or maybe they click on it anyway out of mild curiosity which means your conversion rate will drop, because you’ll spend money on clicks that have a very low chance of actually generating sales.

In your search term report it’ll look something like this

“Query: chain dog leash”
“Keyword: dog leash”
“Match Type: Broad”
“Campaign: Dog Leash Campaign”
“AdGroup: My Dog Leashes”
“Impressions: 10000”
“Clicks: 10”
“Conversions: 2”


“Query:vinyl dog leash”
“Keyword: dog leash”
“Match Type: Broad”
“Campaign: Dog Leash Campaign”
“AdGroup: My Dog Leashes”
“Impressions: 10000”
“Clicks: 10”
“Conversions: 2”

Can you tell from that which ad is working for that query?

Nope. Me neither.

Whereas, if you only had your chain dog leash in that adgroup, you could comfortably say “Oh, this is the result when people are seeing this specific product“, and then make your keyword/search term decisions based on accurate information and not vague dirty adgroups.


PPC Tip #1 TLDR – Budgets

If you like brevity:

  1. Make sure you have either an overall budget set (that value is Daily), or that you’ve counted up all your campaign budgets.
  2. Separate you campaigns by profitability, at the very least ONE for your most profitable and a second for your NOT QUITE SO PROFITABLE keywords.
  3. Check your budget regularly. If you are hitting your cap you’re probably doing something wrong.

If you want more explanation, check the longer version of this post here:

Or if you need help with your campaigns, reach out in the comments.

PPC: The 7 common PPC / Amazon Sponsored Ads Mistakes- #1 Budget

This post is part 1 in a series of 7 posts all about the, you guessed it, 7 most common mistakes people make with their sponsored ads/PPC strategy*.   Once you’ve read these posts you will be ahead of 99% of Amazon sellers.

*Strategy is a generous word, because a lot of people’s PPC “strategy” is the same strategy you might use when trying to get a spider off your back. A lot of screaming. A lot of flailing. A lot of panic. Auto Campaign.

(There might actually be 8 or 9 posts, Amazon recently released some updates)

In your defense, it’s okay.  PPC is mind numbingly boring, and I can’t promise to make it less boring, but so far we’ve talked about spiders and I feel like if you google “PPC” and “Spider off your back” this page is going to be the only hit, so that’s a start.

So the first thing people mess up with their PPC?


Budgets are so complicated that even though it’s #1 of the 7 things people screw up, there are actually three different kinds of mistakes people make.  So this numbering system is already sort of a mess, but it’ll be fine.  We’ll get through it together.

So here’s sub-mistake #1 of mistake #1. Catchy.

Budget Mistake #1 – No Overall Budget Caps

If you learn NOTHING else from this post, please, learn this. Set a daily budget cap for your entire campaign.

It’s this easy.

  1. Log into Seller Central
  2. Click Advertising
  3. Click Campaign Manager

This # is the most you can spend on your sponsored ads.   Please note this # is daily. So if it’s set to $125, your monthly spend will be ~30*125 ($3,750).

An interesting thing about Amazon is that it will almost always spend your money, and this number is an average.

A lot of sellers make the mistake of thinking if they set their daily cap to $125, then they will never ever pay more than $125 a day on advertising,

This is wrong.

The truth is, that with a daily cap of $125, Amazon makes sure that, over the course of a month, you never spend MORE than $125 on average per day,  over the entire month.

This means that if on days 1-29, you’ve spent *only* $20 on advertising (out of a possible $3,750), Amazon will try it’s best to spend $3,730 on the final day of the month.

That’s right. You could spend $3,730 in advertising in one day, which would make your -average- spend $125.

So, if on days 1-29 you have spent a grand total of $20, Amazon will try its best to spend $130 on day #30. Because, much like you, Amazon loves money.

Question: What does this button do?

If you are very sure of what you’re doing you can click the button on the left which turns off global limits.

If you turn this off, Amazon will *only* use your Campaign Budgets to manage your advertising spend.

A lot of sellers make the mistake of turning this setting off, and then having 40 campaigns, each with $20 budgets.   This is an easy way to get a $24,000 (40 campaigns x $20 budgets x 30 days) bill from Amazon at the end of the month.

This leads to the next budget problem, which is also a structural problem but I’ll include it here because money, right?

Budget Mistake #2 – Mixing Your VERY PROFITABLE and KINDA PROFITABLE keywords.

I was listening to a podcast from a leading, and boring, ‘guru’ in the PPC space and she or he started off by saying “You probably want a budget of $50-$200 on your converting campaign” and I had two thoughts back to back.

Thought #1.

Wow what an interesting choice to deliver this content with as little excitement or intonation as humanly possible, ensuring that I am both confused and bored and maybe a little sad inside, I wonder why she or he chose to do that? Did I fall asleep? I think I may have also fallen asleep. Wow.

Thought #2.

Wait why would you only have one converting campaign and give it a unified budget?”

The idea of having a “converting campaign” is like this.

Imagine there are three people in front of you.  Each of them says “Hey, if you give me money, I’ll give you even more money back until I run out.”

(This is actually how PPC works).

You give a dollar to person #1, and he gives you back $2. Cool. So you give them a bunch more.

You give a dollar to person #2 and she laughs and gives you back the shiniest nickle you’ve ever seen.

And then you give a dollar to person #3 and she gives you back $20.

If these 3 people were standing in front of you, how much money would you give to person #1? Person #2?

How much more money would you give to person #3?

Person #1 (+$1)/Person #3(+$19)  are both considered “Converting” because you made money on those deals.

Person #2(-$.95) is considered “Non Converting” because you lost money on that deal.б

Mr. PPC guru suggests that you should set up your campaigns so that you give $50+ a day to person #1 and person #3, and let them split it.

This  is fine if you don’t like money.

If you like money,  mixing these campaigns is безглуздя, which if you don’t speak Ukrainian will just look like nonsense, and if you do speak Ukrainian, it will still look like nonsense.  Either way, mixing these two “converting” keywords in the same campaign is nonsense, just absolutely senseless.  And yes, cents-less, you make less cents.)

The problem is that by lumping all of those keywords into the same campaign means that Amazon will *indiscriminately* give $50 to person #1 and person #3 until you’ve spent all $50, and maybe person #1 is just quick on the draw, and way faster at spending your money than person #3.

The best thing to do is to separate your “awesome keywords” and your “pretty good” keywords into two different campaigns with two different budgets.

Now, this is a rabbit hole, of course.  You could make an infinite # of campaigns for infinite numbers of profitability, but if you even just split it so that your top 20% of performers go in one “bucket” with its own specified budget and your other 80% go in another, this can have a massive effect on how much money you make, simply by leaving more room in your budget for your most profitable keywords.

Which brings us to


Here’s the thing. If you are spending 100% of your daily budget on PPC you’re probably making a mistake.  That means that Amazon _could_ have spent more money, but didn’t simply because you put a cap.

Which means, assuming you have profitable keywords in your campaigns (and under most circumstances you should almost *exclusively* have profitable keywords in your campaigns) that means you didn’t spend money on profitable keywords because you ran out of money.

Let me rephrase that more simply because it bears repeating:

Hitting your daily budget probably means you didn’t turn money into even more money.

Hitting your daily budget means you turned off the magical money making machine.

*Yes there are weirdo scenarios where you might not need to spend on PPC because you’re already ranked #1 for all of your keywords etc etc, so why spend to be #1 in paid search and organic, because maybe your PPC spend is cannibalizing your organic spend but this only applies to like 1 out of a million people and that guy’s name is probably like Richard or Steven or something and no one likes him anyway because who gets to be #1 for all 20,000 of their search terms? No one and I bet Richard/Steven didn’t think to A/B test to MAKE SURE that ALL of their terms were cannibalizing, nope, they didn’t unless Richard/Steven was showing off, and no one likes a show off, Richard/Steven, NO ONE.

So, check your Amazon PPC spending regularly, not necessarily every day, but definitely at least once a week, and more frequently after you make any changes.  If you are hitting your budget caps every day then you are doing something wrong.

It means you either are

1. Losing money on unprofitable keywords.
2. Not making as much money as you can on profitable keywords.

Maybe Both.

Q&A: How to automatically schedule sponsored ads/ppc and save money? (aka Dayparting)

Did you know that every marketplace has “high shopping times” when people are clicking to buy, and “low shipping times” when people click just to look around?

The problem, is that Amazon has NO problem showing your ads to people who are very unlikely to buy, but more than happy to spend your valuable advertising budget.

Rather than manually log in and disable/re-enable your ads every morning and night, Amachete makes it easy to automatically schedule your campaigns to turn on and off when people are actually shopping.

Here’s how:

(Assuming you’ve already activated the PPC link)

1. Click on the AD TIMER logo on the menu.

2. There you’ll see a list of your currently scheduled timers. If this is your first timer, you won’t see anything, except for a blank screen, which I guess counts as something.

3. After you click the only button you can click on the screen you’ll be presented with a list of your advertising profiles. It’ll look a lot like this.  Just click on the one that has a campaign (or campaigns) that you’d like to automate.

4.  You’ll then see a list of campaigns you can specify that you’d like to automate.  The # on the far right is the number of keywords in that campaign.

5.  This is where the magic happens.  Chart magic.

This is a chart of your sale volume over the last 30 days.  As you can see from this chart sales pick up right around 6am, and drop off pretty sharply at around 9pm.

6.  So, below that we’ll specify the following hours for the advertising schedule.

7.   Then click CREATE TIMER  and you’re DONE.

Amachete will now automatically turn on and off your campaigns at those times every day and night.

*Note: We automatically convert all times so they display in the timezone of the target marketplace.

Happy Selling!

Team Amachete

Q&A: How can I download all my reviews using Amachete?

Periodically you might want to have a full copy of all your reviews.  Now you can download them in a CSV from Amachéte in exactly three clicks.

    1. Click on the REVIEW MONITOR option on the side menu.
    2. You’ll see a list of your products with their review totals and averages for each marketplace
    3. Click on one of the marketplaces

    1. This will take you to a page where you can see all of the reviews for your product.

    1. For your third and final click, the green download button is your best bet.

  1. Then you’ll receive a lovely CSV file which you can use to search through your reviews, sort them by date, sort them by rating, and you’ll even have the URL/HTTP Web link for each order so you can see it on the web.

Happy Selling!

Team Amachete

Q&A: I’ve received a patent infringement take down request, what should I do?

Chances are? Nothing.

Right around 4th quarter I receive a number of fake patent infringement letters telling me that my product is a fake, which is insanely ironic and annoying.

Here’s an email I received through buyer-seller messaging at the end of October.

Here’s a more convincing one I received directly to my email, a few weeks later.   It even comes from a very real seeming Amazon address (I haven’t bothered to check to see if they’re spoofing it or what. Or maybe the Seller Performance Team knows it’s not an actionable complaint but passes the message along)

The thing is, I know this product doesn’t infringe on any patents, so I simply ignored them.

Why would anyone send fake cease and desist letters?  Because a lot of people won’t know any better, and there’s money at stake.

Sales for this product were pretty great yesterday, I can understand why someone wanted less competition

In summary. Don’t infringe on people’s patents, but don’t believe someone just because they’re telling you that you’re infringing on someone’s patents.

Amazon will take your listing down if you _actually_ infringe, they don’t need your help to do it.

Q&A: Why are there ASINs in my Search Term Reports?

Here’s a good question I get from time to time, with a lot of wrong answers being given.

Here’s an easy way to understand why something shows up in your Search Term Reports.

If a user is looking at [X] and they click on your ad, [X] will show up in your search term reports.

So, if a user is looking at “Amazon’s search results for the word ‘pickle juicer'” and they click on your ad, you will see “pickle juicer” in your search term reports.

Stupidly I picked the word pickle juicer before testing to see if there were actually ads on it. There aren’t. Pretend there are.

However, what happens if a user doesn’t pick on your ad (just pretend there is one) and they click on that first pickle juicer which is actually a pickle fork because there’s no such thing as a pickle juicer, work with me.

If they scroll down because this isn’t a pickle juicer they want and they see YOUR product down among the related products, and then click on it, Amazon treats this product page the same way it would a search result, and says “Well, a shopper was looking at this, and then went to your product, so you should know.  Their ASIN is X.”

Okay I’ll just Negative Exact Match them.

According to this Amazon Employee, you can not Block ASINs, nor can you negative exact match them.

So. To recap:

1. If a shopper is looking at search term results, and clicks on your product, you will see a search term in your reports.

2. If a shopper is looking at an asin (a product), and clicks on your product, you will see an ASIN.

3. If a user is looking at the sun, and they click on your ad, well… Sunglasses are a small product, nice markup, light weight, but with a lot of competition. I wouldn’t recommend it.

If you’d like to find an international product, and 3x your Amazon business, click here.




Q&A: Does it make sense to sell a cheap product?

This question comes up quite a lot, and the answer is…

Yes. Of course.*

As a general rule you can assume it makes sense to sell a cheap product, whenever you see someone selling it because… why else would they be selling it?

*There are weird fringe cases where a person might sell something at a loss, but Occam’s razor suggests that most people are selling things because it makes them money.  In business, it’s safe to say that profit is everything.

The question with Amazon is actually never about the price of a product, the real question of worthiness is about the profit. Selling a $100 item 20x a day seems great because that’s technically a $730,000 a year business.

However if that item costs them $94 after shipping, manufacturing, Amazon’s commission, sales tax, PPC advertising, etc, it’s really a $43.8k a year profit business.

Compare that to an item that you sell for $12 but actually only costs you $5.  At 20x a day that item actually generates more profit than the $100 item.

Beware the Add-On Badge

Items below a certain price (generally under $10.00) fall under the auspices of the “Add On Item” program.  Amazon won’t ship these items by themselves because the cost of shipping might eat into their profit margin.  Again, profit is everything.

This means that no one can really buy your product unless they purchase another product in the same order. This can greatly affect your sales, unless it’s the type of product that people frequently by multiples of, or with another item.

NOTE: I’ve heard a rumor that if you start your price at $9.99 and gradually lower it, you can bring the price lower and avoid add-on status, than you could if you were to just set it at a low price to begin with.

So, set your price to $9.99, then $9.79, then $9.59, etc, and inch your way to your lower price and see what happens.

Perk: Fewer Returns!

There’s an added upside to selling a cheap item.  Fewer returns.  If you buy something that costs $50 and it doesn’t work, you’ll likely return it.  $12? Meh.  You won’t even bother.

Now, we are of the opinion that you should never knowingly sell a mediocre product, but there are some wheels that will always be squeaky no matter how much grease they receive so it’s nice to cut back on the number of times you have to interact with them.

So, to recap. Check your costs, find your profit, make sure your price isn’t too low, and go for it.

Happy Selling!

I’m running out of stock what should I do?

First. You should be very very very quiet with this complaint or else someone that’s still sitting on 2,000 fidget spinners might spin all of them at your face in jealousy. Fidget spinner deaths are never pretty.

Second. Rejoice. This is the best problem to have in FBA.

First: Here’s what you shouldn’t do…

Gradually raise your price to slow down your sales to stay in stock.

Please don’t do this.

Amazon is a little bit like a bitter ex- and that they never ever forget, which is why if you ever get back together with them they will 100% remember the last thing you did.

So, if you were selling 200 items a day and then broke up with them (went out of stock) and then got back together they’d _assume_ you were selling 200 items a day and put you right back on page 1 with all the other winners.

If you were selling 200, then 100, then 20, then 2, Amazon says “Wow, this item really was getting unpopular at the end right before they went out of stock, so let’s just…place this here. On page 17.  Page 17 is nice.  It’s a fixer-upper.  It has charm.

Step 1.  don’t muck with your price by raising it.*

(*you can muck with it a little. sometimes by raising the price you might discover that you sell more.  So, feel free to raise it until it has an adverse affect on your sales)

(i’m not sure the word muck is nice.  It feels wrong when I say it and also when I type it, so maybe keep that in mind too.  It’s the least important part of that step though)

Step 2You can screw with your price by lowering it.

Screw just seems worse than muck but we’re stuck with it now gang.

If you lower your price as you are running out of stock, your sales velocity will actually increase (go figure) and then instead of going out of stock with a 200/sale a day item, you’re going out of stock with a 250/sale a day item.

It’s like if you’re breaking up with someone and then on the very last day you buy them a Tesla as a break-up gift.  “I can’t be with you but here, it’s basically a huge battery with wheels I hope you love it.”

The current reigning theory is that when you come back in stock, Amazon will honor the 250/day rate and rank you accordingly.

Step 3. When you go out of stock close your listing.

To extend the broken relationship metaphor, imagine you break up with your ex- but in a great way. “Honey I love you but I’ve been invited to go to Botswana to help with the starving kids and I just can’t do long distance but I’ll be back in 2 months because you’re the love of my life. Please wait for me.”

“But honey Botswana looks a LOT like the bottom of the ocean. Bottomoceanswana.”

Leaving your listing open is like… occasionally texting your ex during that 2 month period, every couple of weeks… but instead of sending a sweet I love you, you’re just texting them this:

“Hey you kinda suck.”

Then when you get back after 2 months you wonder why they Hey Kinda Dont Like You Any More.

This is because while you’re out of stock for 2 months while your listing is OPEN, there’s the chance that your product will get returns.  And when Amazon gets a return that it thinks it can resell, it will put it on the shelf.  And then that one item will sell.

So now suddenly you’ve got 200 sales a day for a year and then nothing, and then 1 sale on one day.  Nice. You Kinda Suck in Amazon’s eyes and they’re not gonna forget it when you get Backswana.

Step 4.  Don’t forget to raise your price when you’re sending your inventory in.

It’s a dumb thing but Amazon loses things all the time, basically Amazon will look at your historical price for a product, and sometimes (but not always) they’ll just look at your list price.  So if you send in 2000 items with a list price of $20 and Amazon loses them, they’ll give yoU $40k.  If you forgot to raise your price from $10, you’ll only get $10k.

JK it’s $20k I just wanted to give you that brief moment of satisfaction from having caught me in a mathematical error, because I love it when I catch other people in theirs.


If all this feels like a lot of work to have to do with one product, imagine doing the same thing with twenty products.  Yeah you don’t want that life and I don’t want that life for you either.  The best thing to do is keep an eye on your products inventory.

If you have 5 products and it takes you three minutes each to check their sales vs inventory and predict their stock out 3 times a week, that’ll mean you’ll spend (5*3*3*4, show your work) 180 minutes a month just checking inventory.  That’s THREE HOURS every month, that’s 36 hours a year.

Or you can just sign up for Amachete and we’ll give you an easy page where we’ve done all the math and accounted for how long it takes your manufacturer to ship it so that you’ll know exactly how many days you need before you press that buy button.

You can just glance at it.  And we’ll let you know if it’s getting kinda close.



SuperURLs and How (not) to use them.

By the end of this article you will learn how to make SuperURLS that

  1. minimize your chance of breaking Amazon TOS, and
  2. don’t affect your items conversion rate negatively like traditional SuperURLs and
  3. increase your item sales by increasing your keyword rank.

First off. SuperURLs might be against Amazon TOS.

Historically we’ve told people NOT to use them because there’s a (slim) chance that Amazon might frown on their usage as being rank manipulation and then decide to ruin your day/week/life as a result.

So, if you don’t want to risk it, go ahead and skip everything else and go back to whatever you were doing before.

That said, we think there might be methods which are less of a violation, and certainly less detectable.

But first:

What is a SuperURL?

TLDR; a SuperURL is a link to your product that, when purchased, will increase your product’s Keyword Rank.

What is Keyword Rank?

TLDR; Keyword Rank is a measurement of how “right” Amazon thinks your product is for customers typing in a certain keyword.

e.g. If a customer types in “ninja turtle” and your Ninja Turtle Sheets show up as the 458th result, that means

a. that you’re. not making any money from people typing ninja turtle, and b. there are 457 items that people are _more likely_ to buy when they type in the word ninja turtle.

How do SuperURLs work?

Amazon tracks pretty much everything.  So, if you go to Amazon.com right now and type in “ninja turtle” (sorry for this example it was the first thing that popped into my head)

Amazon will bring you somewhere like this.

If you look closely at the URL that your search brought you to, you should notice something.


Your keyword has been stuffed into the URL. That’s Amazon’s way of keeping track of what brought you to these items.

If you click on the second item, it’ll take you to a URL that looks like this


Amazon is still tracking the keyword that brought you here.

If enough people purchased this item from this URL, Amazon would think “Wow, a lot of people are typing in Ninja Turtle and buying this” and eventually “Maybe we should show this item FIRST when people type in Ninja Turtle?”

That URL is called a “SuperURL”, or more specifically a 1-click SuperURL. Because a person clicks ONE URL and then purchases the item.

1-Click SuperURLs are kind of bad.

Why are they bad?

Glad you asked.

Remember when I said that Amazon measures everything? They measure EVERYTHING. They are like…meth heads when it comes to compulsive measurement.

One of the things they measure is your conversion rate.  Your conversion rate is the # of times a person looks at your product and says “You know what, I DO want to buy this.”  They get converted from a shopper to a buyer.

So if 10 people look at your listing and five of them buy, you have a conversion rate of 50%.

Remember back when we said Amazon takes a lot of things into consideration when showing your items to shoppers? You can probably bet that conversion rate is one of them.

1-click SuperURLs can tank your conversion rate

So what most Amazon FBAers do is generate one of these SuperURLs using a service like AmzTracker, and distribute them to fifty gazillion (approx) people who then all go straight to the page and then 1 percent of them buy the item, which now means your conversion rate is 1 out of 50 gazillion, which is, you know. Low.  Like. Flo Rida low.

The conversion rate for this album has dropped in recent  years.

So…what then?

Enter 2-click SuperURLs. Or SuperDuperURLs

Yes. I’m a grown man that used the word SuperDuper. We will get through it, together.

A SuperDuperURL (oh my god the POWER) is a new type of SuperURL which carries the benefits of SuperURLS but with extra Duper in it, (drunk on power), because it doesn’t carry the risk of destroying your conversion rate.

Instead of taking a person directly to the product, a SuperDuperURL takes you to your storefront, as if the user had typed in the keyword.

Now if a person clicks decides they don’t want to buy it, and browse away, your conversion rate stays intact, but if they click through, and purchase, it will be as if they typed in the word “ninja turtle” and decided to purchase it.

Best of both worlds.

How do I make a SuperDuperURL and Can I please call them 2-click SuperURLs I have dignity.

Amachete makes it really easy.

First click on My Products on the menu.

Then open the product you wish to create a Super(duper)URL.  Make sure to choose the right marketplace as, obviously, Super(Duper!)URLs are marketplace specific.

Once you click on the SuperURL button on the right-hand side you’ll be prompted with a window.

This window is where you choose the keyword you want to rank for 

It will generate a Super(Duper)URL which you can then distribute to potential buyers, increase your keyword rank, and increase your sales.

Happy Selling!